Homosexuality in Sikhism


by guest
22nd April, 2009 at 8:26 am    

This is a guest post by a moderator from Sarbat.net.

Last week was Vaisakhi, one of the most important festivals in the Sikh calendar. Although originally celebrated as the spring harvest festival in the predominantly agricultural-based society of northern South Asia, its significance for Sikhs comes from the fact that the Khalsa, or the ‘Brotherhood of the Pure’, was created by the last living Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, on the day of Vaisakhi in 1699 AD.

However, there are some Sikhs who feel excluded from any concept of a Sikh brotherhood due to prejudices within South Asian culture rather than for any dogmatic reasons. One specific group of Sikhs who feel particularly marginalised are those who are gay.

Punjabi society suffers from extreme machismo, and any deviance from the norm is deemed reprehensible and unacceptable. Unfortunately, this machismo has managed to permeate the Sikh establishment in Punjab, with the Akal Takht (recognised by many Sikhs as being the ultimate arbiter of Sikh religious affairs) issuing an edict in 2005 which stated that the concept of same-sex marriages originated from ‘sick minds’ and being ‘anti-human’, whilst making no reference to what the Sikh holy scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, has to say on the matter.

This has led some Sikhs believe their religion to take a similar approach to homosexuality as the Abrahamic faiths do, when the truth is that the Guru Granth Sahib is mute on the subject of homosexuality. The only references to sexuality within the holy scripture are that one should not be enslaved to ‘kaam’ or lust, something which applies equally to heterosexuals and homosexuals.

Sarbat.Net is a website which has been set up to be a one-stop resource for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people who consider themselves to be Sikh, providing a safe environment for such people to discuss various issues affecting them, as well as publishing articles and leaflets on the subject of homosexuality and Sikhism.

The website is also collecting testimonies from its readers to give an insight to what it means to be gay, Sikh and British in the 21st century, and the one theme which is recurrent is that people at times feel torn between their Sikh identity and their sexuality, often questioning whether it is possible to be both gay and Sikh at all.

Sikhism is, at its core, an egalitarian belief system which acknowledges that all men and women are born equal. It is a religion of equality. This Vaisakhi, during the pomp and celebrations, please remember those Sikhs who are marginalised in the community, not through choice, nor by doctrine, but by prejudice towards their sexuality.


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  1. pickles

    New blog post: Homosexuality in Sikhism http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4352


  2. Topics about Asians » Blog Archive » Homosexuality in Sikhism : Pickled Politics

    [...] INDIA-INCORPORATION placed an interesting blog post on Homosexuality in Sikhism : Pickled PoliticsHere’s a brief overview…some Sikhs who feel excluded from any concept of a Sikh brotherhood due to prejudices within South Asian culture rather than for any dogmatic… [...]




  1. Mangles — on 22nd April, 2009 at 11:18 am  

    Guest you obviuosly have a crude sense of humour to raise this issue around the concept of the Khalsa and Vaisakhi. I thought April fools day had passed several weeks ago.

    I fail to understand the intellect of people who want to be followers of a particular faith and yet live in clear violation of the teachings of that faith. Then in some way, shape or form they campaign to change and seek the faith to adjust to their practices, instead of sincerely accepting the faith and adjusting their own practices in line with the teachings of the particular faith.

    This is especially important in the Sikh concept of Guru-Sikh relationship. It appears some people want to educate Guru Ji as if there is error in the teachings and principles of living a sincere life devoted to God and serving His creation, instead of living a life governed by ones own desires.

    You are correct that Sikhi is about equality. We all have an equal ability to re-submerge into Akaal Purakh. However it is our actions which govern that ability. And by promoting a contra activity to Gods equilibrium is not the way to bolster that latent ability to meet with God, the whole purpose of being a Sikh. That is a far higher and different target than that of the Abrahamic paths, which as I understand aspire the adherent to be in Gods Heaven, wherever that may be.

    Guest by my guest and find a faith that accommodates your principles instead of trying to hoodwinkle and tarnish the good name of the SIkh faith and our Great Gurus. A homosexual wanting to be a Sikh is like a Tory wanting to be a communist, no offence to either, but the two do not corrolate.

    I will not suggest you go to hell, as that is not the SIkh way. I shall however pray that Akaal Purakh gives you the understanding and strength to overcome your desires and blesses you with a sincere journey in Sikhi, if that is what you truly desire.

    Rab Rakha

  2. Ravi Naik — on 22nd April, 2009 at 11:28 am  

    I will not suggest you go to hell, as that is not the SIkh way. I shall however pray that Akaal Purakh gives you the understanding and strength to overcome your desires and blesses you with a sincere journey in Sikhi, if that is what you truly desire.

    I am surprised to read this article. I thought Sikhism was more enlightened than this. On this matter, it has the exact same position as the Catholic Church.

    Good post.

  3. faisal — on 22nd April, 2009 at 11:28 am  

    I will not suggest you go to hell, as that is not the SIkh way. I shall however pray that Akaal Purakh gives you the understanding and strength to overcome your desires and blesses you with a sincere journey in Sikhi, if that is what you truly desire.

    Patronising guff.

    In other words, like other Abrahamic faiths, ‘Akaal Purakh hates fags’.

  4. Jai — on 22nd April, 2009 at 11:39 am  

    On this matter, it has the exact same position as the Catholic Church.

    In other words, like other Abrahamic faiths, ‘Akaal Purakh hates fags’.

    No.

    Sikhism’s position on the matter is accurately summarised in the original article:

    the truth is that the Guru Granth Sahib is mute on the subject of homosexuality. The only references to sexuality within the holy scripture are that one should not be enslaved to ‘kaam’ or lust, something which applies equally to heterosexuals and homosexuals.

    That’s all. There are no direct references to homosexuals or homosexuality either way, irrespective of the Akal Takht’s “edict” a couple of years ago (something they don’t actually have the authority to issue, by the way — only the Sikh Gurus could do that, subsequently followed by the global Sikh community as a whole) and irrespective of individual Sikhs’ subjective opinions on the subject.

  5. faisal — on 22nd April, 2009 at 12:02 pm  

    Jai, the relationship between homosexuality and religious belief and ‘dharma’ is obviously interpretive. And yet, it strikes me that societal attitudes to it’s inherent incompatibility in the Sikh faith is just as rigid in its rejection as it is in religious beliefs where it is prohibited scripturally, probably moreso, given Sikhism’s martial doctrines. As can be seen from Mangles’ rhetoric, which I suspect is not atypical.

  6. Jai — on 22nd April, 2009 at 12:28 pm  

    Well yes, people are obviously going to be influenced by their own upbringings and their wider social environment. People in and from India are no different. There’s plenty of historical and cultural baggage involved which will colour how people interpret their respective religions, especially if it involves making assumptions or logical extrapolations.

    Sikhism itself — in relation to the scriptures and the lives of the Gurus — is completely silent about homosexuality, so there isn’t actually any information for people to make a really informed religion-based decision on the matter either way.

    What is present, however, is the strong emphasis on fair-mindedness towards others and basically being nice to people, unless the other party is being deliberately malicious towards you or another innocent person (and even then, there are limits as to how far you’re supposed to go without your own behaviour becoming sadistic and self-destructive).

    So perhaps the best approach would be for interested parties to take this into consideration, along with the noticeable silence of the Guru Granth Sahib and the Sikh Gurus on the matter of homosexuality, even though homosexuality was something people in the subcontinent at the time were perfectly aware of (just like people in most other parts of the world).

  7. Ravi Naik — on 22nd April, 2009 at 1:49 pm  

    Sikhism itself — in relation to the scriptures and the lives of the Gurus — is completely silent about homosexuality, so there isn’t actually any information for people to make a really informed religion-based decision on the matter either way.

    Well, does the Guru Granth Sahib explicitly state that marriage is between a man and a woman?

    In your experience, do Sikhs generally tolerate homosexuals, or is the mindset similar to Mangles?

  8. cjcjc — on 22nd April, 2009 at 1:54 pm  

    Mangles – I want to know more about this “hoodwinkling” to which you refer…

  9. Jai — on 22nd April, 2009 at 2:10 pm  

    Well, does the Guru Granth Sahib explicitly state that marriage is between a man and a woman?

    The exact quote regarding marriage is as follows:

    “They are not said to be husband and wife who merely sit together. Rather they alone are called husband and wife, who have one soul in two bodies.”

    More details on the hymns involved in the Sikh wedding ceremony (written by Guru Ram Das for his own wedding) and the ideals and concepts it symbolises can be found here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laava

    In your experience, do Sikhs generally tolerate homosexuals,

    Ordinary everyday Sikhs, most of whom are North Indian, have the same attitude towards homosexuals that most other North Indians do. Regarding the specifics, it’s obviously going to depend on their own personalities, social circles, and which part of the world they happen to reside in.

  10. Amrit — on 22nd April, 2009 at 2:29 pm  

    I usually try not to swear, but here goes.

    FUCK OFF, Mangles.

    I fail to understand the intellect of people who want to be followers of a particular faith and yet live in clear violation of the teachings of that faith.

    Like you, you mean? Deciding who can be a Sikh when God is supposed to be the judge of that? When the Guru Granth Sahib – considered to be the literary embodiment of the Gurus’ teachings – doesn’t attack homosexuals?

    I’m going to echo what Jai says in #10 re:homosexuals. Sikhism’s philosophy and attitude to things has unfortunately been replaced, or as with ol’ Mangles there, ‘invented’ based on Indian culture far too often.

    One key thing that the Gurus emphasised was the importance of standing up for the downtrodden. Hence Guru Teg Bahadur Ji and the Kashmiri pandits. People who claim to be Sikh and then react as Mangles did to their ostracised fellow-believers are frauds. The beauty of Sikhism is that you are a ‘Sikh,’ a disciple, the Guru’s and God’s disciple. Not the Akaal Takht’s, not anyone else.

    faisal:

    Mangles’ rhetoric, which I suspect is not atypical.

    You’d be right there. See my parents for further details…

  11. dave bones — on 22nd April, 2009 at 2:36 pm  

    When I stayed in the Golden temple I had one of the huge bearded guards with the blue turbans tell me I “Had a nice body”.

    I dissapeared sharpish.

  12. Jai — on 22nd April, 2009 at 3:13 pm  

    Dave Bones,

    You may have been reading too much into it, especially if the other guy’s command of English wasn’t particularly fluent. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was actually just paying you a polite compliment on your physique due to some quarters of Punjabi culture (particularly amongst Sikhs, due to the martial elements of Sikhism) placing a higher-than-average level of importance on physical fitness. Being one of the guards and therefore a baptised member of the Khalsa, this is something he would have personally been able to relate to and appreciate. It doesn’t mean he was literally hitting on you.

    It’s also worth bearing in mind that in many areas of Indian society, particularly in the north, guys complimenting each other on their physical appearance is far more common than it is here in Britain and doesn’t necessarily have any sexual connotations. It’s usually meant in a brotherly or fatherly way, depending on how old your respective ages are.

    The same also applies to, for example, Indian guys being physically demonstrative towards each other in terms of conveying affection, which (again) is something they’re far more open about than the average white male Brit; to a lesser extent, this also applies to British Indian guys of all generations.

    This doesn’t mean that “there are no homosexuals in India” or any similar nonsense, of course — far from it — but sometimes it requires some mental readjustment to take on-board local cultural mores and customs so that one doesn’t accidentally misread innocent gestures of friendliness.

  13. faisal — on 22nd April, 2009 at 3:25 pm  

    Here is a great blog post linked off sarbat.net:

    http://thelangarhall.com/archives/113

    interesting discussion afterwards.

  14. Rumbold — on 22nd April, 2009 at 3:32 pm  

    I thought this was an excellent post, which was why Sunny and I put it up.

    Mangles:

    As Jai and Amrit say, if the Guru Granth Sahib has nothing to say about homosexuality, then how can you claim that being a homosexual is opposed to Sikhism? I don’t understand. Unless you believe yourself to be above the 11th Guru.

  15. Leon — on 22nd April, 2009 at 4:24 pm  

    I thought Sikhism was more enlightened than this.

    All religions are subject to human prejudice…that said Sikhism is one of two religions I’d be drawn to if I believe in the existence of God etc…

  16. Rumbold — on 22nd April, 2009 at 4:26 pm  

    Leon:

    If the other one was Jedi you could join the police.

  17. faisal — on 22nd April, 2009 at 4:41 pm  

    Leon by my guest and find a faith that accommodates your principles instead of trying to hoodwinkle and tarnish the good name of the Sith faith and our Sith Lords. A homosexual wanting to be a Sith is like a Rancor wanting to be an Ewok, no offence to either, but the two do not corrolate.

  18. Rumbold — on 22nd April, 2009 at 4:47 pm  

    Hahaha.

    Oh dear. This really is nerd central.

  19. Ravi Naik — on 22nd April, 2009 at 4:59 pm  

    As Jai and Amrit say, if the Guru Granth Sahib has nothing to say about homosexuality, then how can you claim that being a homosexual is opposed to Sikhism?

    Well, in Christianity, Jesus is mute about homosexuality. Yet, he does talk about marriage and he explicitely uses the terms husband and wife. And this is what prompts many to say that this is the only permissible form of marriage. Since sex is considered a sin outside marriage in Christitianity and homosexuals cannot get married, then it follows that homosexual behaviour is also a sin.

    I suspect the same rational is being used by Sikhs like Mangles.

    Do remember that laws can be expressed in two ways: that everything is permissible unless stated otherwise (British and American law), or that everything is prohibited unless stated otherwise (Roman Law… I think)… if laws are expressed mixing both these rules, then it becomes ambiguous.

  20. Ravi Naik — on 22nd April, 2009 at 5:08 pm  

    All religions are subject to human prejudice…that said Sikhism is one of two religions I’d be drawn to if I believe in the existence of God etc…

    The other religion starts with B, right?

  21. Rumbold — on 22nd April, 2009 at 5:41 pm  

    Jai:

    Well, St. Paul doesn’t really like homosexuals, or, er. marriage (come to think of it Paul doesn’t really like anyone). So the Bible is different (especially if you consider parables like Sodom and Gomorrah).

  22. Don — on 22nd April, 2009 at 6:27 pm  

    Ravi,

    The other religion starts with B, right?

    Are atheists so predictable? ;)

    Always had a soft spot for the Q religion myself. Don’t accept the basic premise, but they seem like nice people and they don’t bug anybody else.

    But, yeah, from what I have learned about Sikhism over the last few years it seems to be one of the less shouty ones and one which is prepared to accept that its adherents are adults. The various Abrahamic sects seem to believe that their adherents couldn’t find their arse with both hands without it being in The Book, with a hierarch telling them what The Book really said, because they couldn’t possibly understand it for themselves.

    Rumbold,

    Quite. Imagine car-sharing with him.

    ‘So, what did you do over the week-end?’
    ‘Does it matter? I’m still going to hell for it, right?’

  23. Amrit — on 22nd April, 2009 at 6:37 pm  

    *dies laughing at faisal #18*

    Post of the month!

  24. Narinder Purba — on 22nd April, 2009 at 7:30 pm  

    A nod of respect to the guest writer for a thoughtful post.

    A person’s sexuality has no impact on their ability to follow a faith. Most followers – and I suppose this is an assumption – do not follow their religion word for word yet class themselves as religious and believers in their religion.

    In short, it is difficult for people to be true followers because it is largely incompatible with their way of living in a modern world. There are, for example, many Sikhs who drink, have sex before marriage, do drugs, live to make money, and define success as a big house and mercedes, yet if you were to ask an orthodox Sikh whether they believed that such people could be classed as Sikhs, they would undoubtedly say no. How many Sikhs would thus be left?

    At the end of the homosexuality isn’t a sin, and I applaud those at sarbat.net for bringing the topic to the fore and engaging in good healthy discourse.

  25. Ravi Naik — on 22nd April, 2009 at 8:39 pm  

    Well, St. Paul doesn’t really like homosexuals, or, er. marriage (come to think of it Paul doesn’t really like anyone). So the Bible is different (especially if you consider parables like Sodom and Gomorrah).

    I am not sure what you are saying, Rumbold. Different than what?

  26. Ravi Naik — on 22nd April, 2009 at 9:53 pm  

    Well, St. Paul doesn’t really like homosexuals, or, er. marriage (come to think of it Paul doesn’t really like anyone). So the Bible is different (especially if you consider parables like Sodom and Gomorrah).

    Sorry, I understand now – you meant that the Bible is different from the Guru Granth Sahib, in that there is explicit repudiation of homosexuality.

    However, this is only because St. Paul’s interpretation of Christianity (despite having never met Jesus) was the one chosen as the foundation of the Church, and they included his writings in the Bible. Jesus himself never said anything against homosexuality.

    As for Sodom and Gomorrah – the Jews and early Christians did not interpret the destruction of Sodom as punishment against homosexual behavior. This interpretation was added in Europe in the early Middle Ages, and in the Koran around that time.

  27. fug — on 22nd April, 2009 at 11:07 pm  

    why colonise sikh culture with christocentric conpections of sexuality anyway. how dull.

  28. Desi Italiana — on 23rd April, 2009 at 4:10 am  

    CAVEAT: Please, please do not think I am taking jabs at people and being offensive, but at the same time, I would like to be honest—–

    Can I say that I am absolutely sick–and really, really SICK– of having every single freaking thing either corroborated, referenced to, or validated by religion. Absolutely over it. It’s like when I hear people talking about Taliban actions in Swat and saying “Well, this is not Islam” or “In the Koran, such and such is written.”

    And now this post (NOTE: I am NOT talking about the blogger and his/her topic choice, but the desire of folks to somehow combine religion with other things) about Sikhism and sexual orientation?? (NOTE AGAIN: not trying to liken Taliban actions with Sikh philosophy or whatever, just expressing my angst).

    Whatever!

    And this is why: no matter how egalitarian some ideals/notions are of a particular religion, practioners themselves are a highly variable lot. And in my book, it’s what humans do–and not what a religion or “holy” (i.e. symbolically significant) book dictates. Importance is given to individual actions rather than social codes/beliefs outlined in books.

    Is it not that a person’s being is much more important and meaningful than what religious leaders or inspirational thinkers said so long ago???

    Why can’t people ever seem to wholeheartedly believe in things without stamping it with their religious affiliation? Why do some people have to claim so many damn labels and not just be happy with just BEING? Look at this:

    “as well as publishing articles and leaflets on the subject of homosexuality and Sikhism.”

    WHY the importance on connecting the two? Why? Can homosexuality not be as it is? Does Sikhism NEED to be linked to how one loves, who one loves???

    “The website is also collecting testimonies from its readers to give an insight to what it means to be gay, Sikh and British in the 21st century”

    Seriously, is there even such a thing as “gay, Sikh, and British”? Can ANYONE’s identity ever be that packaged? I would never consider myself as “Heterosexual, Hindu, and American in the 21st century.” At this point, an individual attempting to connect these three dots see themselves in a very shallow depth.

    I know that I probably opened a huge can of worms here, and it’s fair if people rip me apart. I really do not mean any disrespect, but for the life of me, I just don’t see why people are still so hung up on religion in this day and age. That’s because I’m really godless, and one can make what they want of that….

    Maybe Sikhism was silent on the homosexuality issue, maybe sexuality itself was much more accepted in Hinduism, maybe during Moghul times homosexuality was quite practiced—-WHO CARES. There are certain principles and advancement of knowledge that we have in the 21st century, in 2009, where whether something is accepted by a given religion is irrelevant–it matters more on a humane level.

    Perhaps I am not making sense–I’ve been drinking too much Portuguese red wine, but you get my drift (i Hope)

  29. Desi Italiana — on 23rd April, 2009 at 4:26 am  

    On second thought, control+alt+delete that comment of mine. It’s insensitive, and playing devil’s advocate with myself, I could very well applaud folks for trying to institute change in spheres where certain things are deemed unacceptable by virtue of social common law…

  30. Jai — on 23rd April, 2009 at 10:11 am  

    Rumbold,

    Well, St. Paul doesn’t really like homosexuals, or, er. marriage (come to think of it Paul doesn’t really like anyone). So the Bible is different (especially if you consider parables like Sodom and Gomorrah).

    There’s also Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20, the latter of which deals more with penalties.

    ***********************

    Don,

    But, yeah, from what I have learned about Sikhism over the last few years it seems to be one of the less shouty ones and one which is prepared to accept that its adherents are adults.

    Very true. The faith does provide some basic pointers which can be extrapolated but beyond that, the emphasis is on the adherent subsequently undergoing the relevant personal development and figuring things out for themselves via the use of their own intellectual and moral critical faculties (and especially their common sense), rather than having all the answers handed to them on a silver platter.

    In terms of its basic ideals, Sikhism actually isn’t that different from much of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights along with large chunks of the American Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, although there’s obviously also a spiritual angle involved.

    ****************************

    Great article & discussion on ‘The Langar Hall’ website via the link Faisal supplied in #14. I though that the commenters “Kaur” and “HK” in particular made some brilliant points, especially the latter.

    If I may paraphrase a couple of things some commenters on that website made:

    Firstly, is Sikhism generally ‘heteronormative’ (to use a very American term) in its views ? In my opinion, “Yes”.

    However, rather than explicitly being “against homosexuality”, is it more correct to say that the faith is “against homophobia” ? The answer is “Yes”.

  31. Jai — on 23rd April, 2009 at 10:18 am  

    By the way, for those of you who haven’t been following recent events across the Pond, coincidentally during the past couple of days there’s actually been quite a major controversy in America regarding a contestant in the Miss USA pageant. Miss California was apparently on the brink of winning but ended up being the runner-up due to supposedly giving the politically-incorrect “wrong” answer when asked for her views on same-sex marriages by one of the judges. There’s been a lot of publicity about it in the American media.

    More details here, via CNN:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/04/22/martin.miss.california/index.html?iref=newssearch

  32. faisal — on 23rd April, 2009 at 10:25 am  
  33. Rumbold — on 23rd April, 2009 at 10:52 am  

    Ravi:

    “As for Sodom and Gomorrah – the Jews and early Christians did not interpret the destruction of Sodom as punishment against homosexual behavior. This interpretation was added in Europe in the early Middle Ages, and in the Koran around that time.”

    Interesting. I had always thought that it had always been the intepretation. Thanks.

  34. bananabrain — on 23rd April, 2009 at 11:45 am  

    Do remember that laws can be expressed in two ways: that everything is permissible unless stated otherwise (British and American law), or that everything is prohibited unless stated otherwise (Roman Law… I think)… if laws are expressed mixing both these rules, then it becomes ambiguous.

    halakhah (jewish religious law) considers that the Torah does precisely this, which is why it is ambiguous, case-based and behavioural. that is why expertise and interpretation are crucial.

    Well, in Christianity, Jesus is mute about homosexuality. Yet, he does talk about marriage and he explicitely uses the terms husband and wife. And this is what prompts many to say that this is the only permissible form of marriage. Since sex is considered a sin outside marriage in Christitianity and homosexuals cannot get married, then it follows that homosexual behaviour is also a sin.

    in halakhah, based on the OT, women are not in fact obliged to marry, although men are, so there is a loophole. the minimalist position is that only actual homosexual penetration is prohibited – but being gay as an intrinsic status does not exist. the halakhah is only interested in homosexual *activity*. (interestingly enough, that is more or less what the best science available seems to say) nonetheless, i believe, ravi, there remain specifically christian objections to homosexuality expressed in very broad terms, namely two specific NT texts on which *christians only* rely – 1 corinthians 6 and 1 romans 26-28:

    “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to.”

    you will note here that this text includes lesbianism, which is not mentioned in the Written Torah and only mentioned in passing as being something that happens if you have too many female egyptian servants, i believe the talmudic euphemism is something like “egyptian boredom”.

    There’s also Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20, the latter of which deals more with penalties.

    yes indeed, but what is really being penalised? the acts in question are treated, *in the Text* like pork or sabbath violation – not intrinsically bad in and of themselves, but something jews aren’t allowed to do. i cannot find a reason why they would be prohibited to the general population if they occur naturally and cannot be definitively shown to be harmful. this is why interpretation is crucial. the way these verses are employed by fundamentalist christians violates both their plain meaning and its context. if something is described in Torah, as in the case of this penalised activity, as “an abomination to you”, that means simply that jews (to whom the Law is addressed) aren’t allowed to do it. moreover, the same language is used about eating pork. i cannot see a difference in the language which would allow you to eat pork but not have gay sex. besides, as far as we are concerned the “spirit” of the Law is inseparable from the *practice* of the Law. and we say that the Law says “pork bad”-”bum fun bad”-”shabbat violation bad”. this cannot be a consistent basis to rely on for christians, it is simply picking and choosing.

    As for Sodom and Gomorrah – the Jews and early Christians did not interpret the destruction of Sodom as punishment against homosexual behaviour.

    indeed; if you look at the plain meaning of the text, the sin of sodom and gomorrah was in fact that of *violence* and *selfish self-gratification*, interpreted as the right of the citizenry to rape any visitors by any means convenient – you will note that when lot is bargaining with the mob, he offers them not his sons, but his daughters in exchange for saving the arses of his angelic visitors. and this is interesting in the context of leviticus: properly understood, it can only be established from those verses with certainty that a particular homosexual behaviour, namely anal sex, is not permitted to jews, along with a bunch of other stuff we’re not allowed to do. we have also established that “sexual immorality” is in the noahide laws (which are not, of course explicitly listed in the Torah, but derived via halakhic interpretation) is not to be understood simply as referring to homosexuality but to a whole set of exploitative, violent, non-consensual and idolatrous behaviours, of which sodom and gomorrah are the exemplars – it is *not at all* clear that this refers to committed, monogamous, consensual, loving homosexual partners (who i cannot personally see as being at all harmful to me, to society or to G!D)

    more to the point, you will note that the *punishment* for sabbath violation is the same as that for homosexuality – stoning. so they’re both seen as equally bad. but are we all lining up to complain about sabbath violation? not on your nelly. it is the prioritisation that i object to. arguably, sabbath violation ought to be a far bigger issue!

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  35. Ravi Naik — on 23rd April, 2009 at 12:01 pm  

    There’s also Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20, the latter of which deals more with penalties.

    Jai, Leveticus is part of the Old Testament – borrowed directly from the Torah – and it is meant to provide historic context to the New Testament. The laws and rituals specified in Leveticus are not meant to be followed by Christians. For instance, Leviticus prohibits eating pork and other unclean animals, or not to touch a menstruating women for a week, and other rules like how to treat your slaves.

    It is interesting though that a lot of Christians use Levecticus (as opposed to St. Paul as Rumbold rightly pointed out) as proof that God doesn’t approve homosexuality, but disregard everything else Leveticus said.

    By the way, in the Bible, you will find horrific stories of war, gruesome deaths to the “enemies”, violence against “sinners”… and some of these actions are committed by the heroes of the story, including God. A lot of what is written, one would hope, is not to be taken literally. Which is why you need some form of interpretation of the Bible.

    Perhaps I am not making sense–I’ve been drinking too much Portuguese red wine, but you get my drift (i Hope)

    I love Portuguese red wines – specially the ones from the Alentejo region.

    And this is why: no matter how egalitarian some ideals/notions are of a particular religion, practioners themselves are a highly variable lot. And in my book, it’s what humans do–and not what a religion or “holy” (i.e. symbolically significant) book dictates. Importance is given to individual actions rather than social codes/beliefs outlined in books.

    I totally agree. Religion must be followed with conscience and reflection, not following blindly just because your religious elders told you, or you found some sentence in your religious book to justify your bigotry.

    The whole problem about homosexuality and religious resistance to it, is the denial that humans are sexual beings by nature. I never understood why “lust”, which is another word for being horny, is a sin or seen as an obstacle to spiritual enlightenment. Not sure why all major religions, including Buddhism and Sikhism, are very strict with sexual conduct.

  36. munir — on 23rd April, 2009 at 12:07 pm  

    Ravi Naik

    “As for Sodom and Gomorrah – the Jews and early Christians did not interpret the destruction of Sodom as punishment against homosexual behavior. This interpretation was added in Europe in the early Middle Ages, and in the Koran around that time.”

    Were is your evidence for this astonishing claim?

    This is an interesting piece vis a vis Abrahamic faitsh and homosexuality

    “As for the issues he raises, just to be clear: Islam, of the three Abrahamic faiths, is by far the most tolerant toward inverts – homosexuals – which it recognizes as an element of the society. Entire sections of Islamic law books define the mukhannath, the effeminate, and its kinds including the hermaphrodite, as well as the rulings that pertain to them in sexual segregation, prayer, inheritance, funerals and so forth, yes, even marriage. However, there is no attempt whatsoever to claim they are normal.”
    http://www.abc.se/~m9783/n/stint_e.html

  37. bananabrain — on 23rd April, 2009 at 12:11 pm  

    ravi:

    isn’t that what *i* just said?

    munir:

    isn’t it nice when you have abrahamic traditionalists competing on who can be most liberal-minded?

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  38. munir — on 23rd April, 2009 at 12:13 pm  

    Ravi Naik
    “The whole problem about homosexuality and religious resistance to it, is the denial that humans are sexual beings by nature. I never understood why “lust”, which is another word for being horny, is a sin or seen as an obstacle to spiritual enlightenment. Not sure why all major religions, including Buddhism and Sikhism, are very strict with sexual conduct.”

    Your clearly ignorant of religions teachings on this. Lust and sex are not seen as bad in either Islam or Judaism rather the opposite- they just are to be channelled through marriage. In Islam celibacy is condemned (one of the early Muslims said if he knew he had 10 days left to live he would marry rather tahn meet God as a celibate) and it is marriage that is considered a path to spiritual enlightment. A husband and wife who have intercourse are rewarded by God for it.

    God’s Messenger(s) said: “In the sexual act of each of you there is a sadaqa (charity).” The Companions replied: “0 Messenger of God! When one of us fulfils his sexual desire, will he be given a reward for that?” And he said, “Do you not think that were he to act upon it unlawfully, he would be sinning? Likewise, if he acts upon it lawfully he will be rewarded.” (Muslim)

    Theres a nice article here
    http://www.islamfortoday.com/ruqaiyyah03.htm

    We even have sexual relations in paradise which is used by up tight Christians as somehow a criticism (its paradise!).

  39. Shamit — on 23rd April, 2009 at 12:17 pm  

    Last month while traveling my co-passenger turned out to be a Catholic priest who has been (by grace of god his words) been posted to Vatican. He is in his early 40s and very bright.

    While chatting amicably, I had to ask him about the stupid decision of the Catholic Church regarding the 9 year old girl who was raped by her stepfather and had to have an abortion.

    He said he was ashamed and that the Senior members of the Church often do not realise that faith is not supposed to be dictatorial.

    He said a lot of the younger clergy believe the Church is unnecessarily alienating it from a lot of good people with its views.

    Now, apply that to most religions, I think it applies. Yes, of course, we got maniacs in all religions but those exceptions prove the rule.

  40. Ravi Naik — on 23rd April, 2009 at 12:27 pm  

    i believe, ravi, there remain specifically christian objections to homosexuality expressed in very broad terms, namely two specific NT texts on which *christians only* rely – 1 corinthians 6 and 1 romans 26-28

    Yes. These passages are from St. Paul, and as Rumbold pointed out earlier, he doesn’t approve homosexuality. St. Paul is a product of his time, for instance, he appears to support slavery and at times he appears to be a misogynist. If Christians believe homosexuality is wrong because St. Paul said so, then they have to agree to slavery and misogyny to be consistent.

    Here is an interesting article about the liberal views of St. Paul’s writings on this subject.

    ravi:

    isn’t that what *i* just said?

    When I started writing my comment, you hadn’t posted yours. I am happy to say that we are saying the same things. :)

  41. Jai — on 23rd April, 2009 at 12:29 pm  

    Ravi,

    Interesting clarification about Leviticus. I wonder how many people are actually aware of that, both Christian and non-Christian.

    I never understood why “lust”, which is another word for being horny, is a sin or seen as an obstacle to spiritual enlightenment.

    Well, in Sikhism it’s only excessive lust which is a problem (not lust per se), especially if it involves inappropriate behaviour and/or takes over one’s life, to the extent of irresponsible, self-destructive behaviour and/or (if you’re married or in a monogomous steady relationship) triggering adultery even if relations with one’s partner are ostensibly okay.

    There’s nothing wrong with the husband and wife fancying the pants off each other and having a normal healthy sex life, for example. I can’t remember the exact quote, but apparently Guru Gobind Singh said something about how a man should ideally love his wife passionately.

    Things are just meant to be kept in balance — the same principle that applies to, for example, the dangers of gluttony or excessive drinking, or generally “overdoing things” to the point of obsession or addiction.

    Not sure why all major religions, including Buddhism and Sikhism, are very strict with sexual conduct.

    It’s a pretty powerful human drive and can cause people to do some stupid things if they’re not careful. I guess the impact on social structures involving the family is a factor too, especially the risk of pregnancy (the latter makes sense when you consider the lack of effective contraception until relatively recently in our history).

    However, sometimes there are other factors involving attempts to control people (especially women) by controlling their sexuality, or taking things too far and either having a puerile/unhealthy attitude to sexuality or attempting to completely negate such a fundamental aspect of what makes us human. None of these are actually condoned or encouraged in Sikhism, by the way, but of course people sometimes put their own spin on things based on their own personalities, biases, upbringing and social/cultural environment.

  42. Ravi Naik — on 23rd April, 2009 at 12:50 pm  

    Were is your evidence for this astonishing claim?

    What exactly are you objecting to, Munir?

    Your clearly ignorant of religions teachings on this. Lust and sex are not seen as bad in either Islam or Judaism rather the opposite- they just are to be channelled through marriage.

    That’s what I meant by major religions being very strict with sexual conduct. If religions were not obsessed with sex, and perhaps focused on more spiritual matters, then homosexuality would not be even an issue.

  43. Shamit — on 23rd April, 2009 at 12:55 pm  

    Ravi

    Munir is objecting to you for not being Muslim and not agreeing with all that he says or anything he says.

    I am surprised he has not indulged in his favourite game of pointing fingers at Jai but maybe Rumbold’s suggestions other day had some impact.

    But as I asked Douglas, and I always ask Jai — why do you guys waste time in arguing with this idiot and his alter ego Blah.

    I got a lot of time in my hands today so forgive me for making such banal statements amidst your really excellent theological discussions with Jai
    *******************************
    Ravi and Jai

    as usual excellent conversation and great insights. keep it up gents

  44. persephone — on 23rd April, 2009 at 12:57 pm  

    “That’s what I meant by major religions being very strict with sexual conduct. If religions were not obsessed with sex, and perhaps focused on more spiritual matters, then homosexuality would not be even an issue.”

    or indeed fixated on the sex being within marriage….and then you have the contradiction of the immaculate conception and the virgin mary

  45. munir — on 23rd April, 2009 at 1:12 pm  

    Ravi Naik

    What exactly are you objecting to, Munir?

    Your comment ““As for Sodom and Gomorrah – the Jews and early Christians did not interpret the destruction of Sodom as punishment against homosexual behavior. This interpretation was added in Europe in the early Middle Ages, and in the Koran around that time.”

    for which you produced zero evidence. kindly do.

    “That’s what I meant by major religions being very strict with sexual conduct. If religions were not obsessed with sex, and perhaps focused on more spiritual matters, then homosexuality would not be even an issue.”

    They arent obsessed – the number of verses in the Quran about sex is perhaps 10 out of over 6000 verses-What you should have said is “why am I so obsessed with what religions teach about sexuality” . Its the same with obsession some non-Muslims have with hijab (1 verse)

    On what basis is sex not a spiritual matter?

  46. Shamit — on 23rd April, 2009 at 1:13 pm  

    did you guys see the advert on the PP homepage — about lightening one’s skin.. wow — desi aunties would find it for all the darker skinned girls and guys if they could.

    Jai, you have to come up with one of your usual gems with this one man. cmon Jai

  47. bananabrain — on 23rd April, 2009 at 1:32 pm  

    If religions were not obsessed with sex, and perhaps focused on more spiritual matters, then homosexuality would not be even an issue.

    i think it’s a bit rich for anyone in western society to claim that *religions* are the only ones obsessed with sex. the thing is, sex is important and arguably the question of what constitutes good or bad sex is an important discussion. the fact is that sex *is* a spiritual matter from both secular and religious perspectives, being the most intense personal, interpersonal and transcendent experience one is likely to undergo as a matter of [inter]course. the issue is people lecturing other people about what good or bad sex is and isn’t. it is as tiresome for me to have to flick past articles about who did what, with what, to whom in the newspaper, i am sure, as it is for clerics to be banging on about gay marriage. if “sex sells”, then religion is not the only one buying.

    @ munir: you said that ravi hadn’t produced any evidence that jews and early dhristians did not interpret the destruction of sodom as punishment against homosexual behaviour; well, *i* did, or for jews at any rate. you seem to have ignored that.

    Things are just meant to be kept in balance — the same principle that applies to, for example, the dangers of gluttony or excessive drinking, or generally “overdoing things” to the point of obsession or addiction.

    that is what *we* think as well, with the annoying exception of being obsessive about finding rules to obsess over.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  48. Ravi Naik — on 23rd April, 2009 at 1:39 pm  

    for which you produced zero evidence. kindly do.

    Here and Here.

    The second article gives you a much more detailed account of how the story of Sodom became associated with homosexuality, and the people who actually made that association.

  49. munir — on 23rd April, 2009 at 1:44 pm  

    Shamit
    “Munir is objecting to you for not being Muslim”

    Yes cos I never disagree with Muslim Sid

    “and not agreeing with all that he says or anything he says.”

    not sure what the difference is

    “I am surprised he has not indulged in his favourite game of pointing fingers at Jai but maybe Rumbold’s suggestions other day had some impact.”

    I wasnt aware you were only allowed to do one thing on PP. Thanks.

    “why do you guys waste time in arguing with this idiot ……

    I got a lot of time in my hands today”

    LOL

  50. Shamit — on 23rd April, 2009 at 1:49 pm  

    Munir

    Yeah I gave myself a day off to some extent — sorry should have cleared it with you.

    with your last post — are you trying to admit you are an idiot? If so you got my vote.

  51. Jai — on 23rd April, 2009 at 1:51 pm  

    Shamit,

    as usual excellent conversation and great insights. keep it up gents

    Thanks mate.

    did you guys see the advert on the PP homepage — about lightening one’s skin.. wow — desi aunties would find it for all the darker skinned girls and guys if they could.

    No I didn’t, although I can imagine the contents as I’ve seen those type of adverts before. Products such as Lightenex are sometimes advertised on the various Indian satellite channels too. Dodgy stuff.

    Jai, you have to come up with one of your usual gems with this one man. cmon Jai

    Actually some satirical sketches do spring to mind but I think I’d derail the thread too much ;) If there’s another discussion on the topic on PP at any point then I’ll unleash some appropriate humour there.

  52. munir — on 23rd April, 2009 at 1:51 pm  

    Shamit
    “with your last post — are you trying to admit you are an idiot? If so you got my vote.”

    hehehe – read again my friend

  53. faisal — on 23rd April, 2009 at 1:52 pm  

    Ravi

    As for Sodom and Gomorrah – the Jews and early Christians did not interpret the destruction of Sodom as punishment against homosexual behavior. This interpretation was added in Europe in the early Middle Ages, and in the Koran around that time.

    But the second of your articles says this:

    The idea that homosexual intercourse was involved as at least a part of the evil of Sodom arises from the story in Genesis 19

    Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom – both young and old – surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

    I guess the interpretation that Sodom was punished for its homosexuality had to come from somewhere. The god of Genesis hates fags.

  54. Jai — on 23rd April, 2009 at 2:07 pm  

    “and not agreeing with all that he says or anything he says.”

    not sure what the difference is

    “All” means “everything”, ie. the entirety of a particular statement or series of statements involving certain opinions, claims or assertions.

    “Anything” refers to individual components of a particular statement or series of statements involving certain opinions, claims or assertions.

    Hence “all” and “anything” mean two different things.

  55. Ravi Naik — on 23rd April, 2009 at 2:25 pm  

    i think it’s a bit rich for anyone in western society to claim that *religions* are the only ones obsessed with sex. the thing is, sex is important and arguably the question of what constitutes good or bad sex is an important discussion. the fact is that sex *is* a spiritual matter from both secular and religious perspectives

    What constitutes good or bad sex has been written in several secular books, I own a few. :) But I think you missed my point: what I am criticising is that religious bodies regulate heavily on sexual matters: in what conditions should we have sex, and with whom.

    And this is why we are in a position where homosexuals are being denied the right to be with someone they love or feel attracted to, without making them outcasts.

  56. Ravi Naik — on 23rd April, 2009 at 2:46 pm  

    I guess the interpretation that Sodom was punished for its homosexuality had to come from somewhere. The god of Genesis hates fags.

    Sid, that’s a modern translation of Genesis 19 based on the homosexual interpretation of Sodom (NIV translation). The mainstream Bible says:

    and they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them.

    If you read the mainstream version literally it tells the story of Lot who lived in Sodom. He was hiding two visitors in his house. And a mob of angry men (who in this story are wicked) wanted to know who these foreigners were.

  57. faisal — on 23rd April, 2009 at 2:52 pm  

    Ravi

    If you read further in the article you offered:

    The Hebrew verb used is to know, which can have a sexual meaning in the Bible, and probably does here, judging from Lot’s shocked reaction:

    No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing…

    To “know” someone, in Biblical terms, is to have sex with them. So it looks like, irrespective of the NIV translation, the men of Sodom were being punished for their homosexuality and this is integral to the scripture, not a result of external interpretation.

  58. bananabrain — on 23rd April, 2009 at 3:30 pm  

    ok, faisal, but the text itself also states that:

    a)lot would have to “bring them out” – so they weren’t coming of their own accord, implying force
    b) that “the men from every part of the city of sodom” were mentioned, implying collusion and
    c) that “we may know them” – that sex is involved and the precise construction is transitive; “we may know them”, not “we may know one another” – the “them” in this clearly have little choice. so the calculus is:

    BRING (force) + EVERYONE (collusion) + KNOW THEM (transitive sex) = mass gang rape.

    the fact that everyone involved is male is not in fact mentioned in the way it is explicitly done in leviticus. G!D doesn’t Hate “fags”; G!D Hates gang rapists. i don’t have a problem with that.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  59. faisal — on 23rd April, 2009 at 3:39 pm  

    Yeah, but I have a feeling Sodom would not have been so summararily punished (destroyed) had Lot’s friends been women.

  60. bananabrain — on 23rd April, 2009 at 3:42 pm  

    well, that’s you imposing your assumptions on the text, really, isn’t it? part of the reason the sages don’t think much of lot is because he attempted to prostitute his daughters to avoid the situation.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  61. faisal — on 23rd April, 2009 at 3:49 pm  

    Well, you’re imposing a rather massive assumption of your own, regarding the the punishment of Sodom was for ‘gang-rape’ than rather homosexuality, aren’t you?

  62. Katy Newton — on 23rd April, 2009 at 4:11 pm  

    I have always thought that the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah was based on their general descent into deplorable debauchery, and that the part where they demand the men for rape rather than the women in the house was intended to illustrate their extreme depravity. It’s a very unpleasant little story altogether, frankly.

  63. bananabrain — on 23rd April, 2009 at 4:16 pm  

    it’s not an assumption, faisal – it’s based on the *plain meaning* of the text actually says based on my analysis at #59. it is that which is defined as a “wicked thing”, not the men-on-men aspect.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  64. Ravi Naik — on 23rd April, 2009 at 5:40 pm  

    To “know” someone, in Biblical terms, is to have sex with them. So it looks like, irrespective of the NIV translation, the men of Sodom were being punished for their homosexuality and this is integral to the scripture, not a result of external interpretation.

    Sid, I do not know what is the correct interpretation of Sodom’s story, but you are absolutely wrong to say that there isn’t any other valid interpretation except yours. Translating books that are thousands of years old, you are bound to change the meaning depending on the biases and values of the time. There is no way you can say for sure what is the meaning based on a current translation, certainly not NIV’s.

    Anyway, what we know with far more confidence, and pretty much the point of the articles I presented was that Jews and early Christians did not interpret the destruction of Sodom as a direct result of homosexuality.

  65. Jai — on 23rd April, 2009 at 6:11 pm  

    Coincidentally (again), CNN has another new article on a related topic, including the findings of recent scientific research. Apparently there’s been an increase in women leaving men for other women, for multiple reasons.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/personal/04/23/o.women.leave.menfor.women/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

  66. comrade — on 23rd April, 2009 at 8:37 pm  

    Jai

    Well, in Sikhism it’s only excessive lust which is a problem

    Is having more then one wife a problem, if that is the case,then you need to look at Guru Gobind Singh, I have read that he had four wives. Does that not contradict the the ‘the first commandment’ Kaam/lust/sex

  67. dave bones — on 23rd April, 2009 at 9:09 pm  

    Jai-

    a polite compliment on my physique?

    a higher-than-average level of importance on physical fitness?

    Not me. I think the guy was hitting on me. So did everyone else.

  68. faisal — on 23rd April, 2009 at 9:28 pm  

    Sid, I do not know what is the correct interpretation of Sodom’s story, but you are absolutely wrong to say that there isn’t any other valid interpretation except yours.

    My interpretation? I was simply reading straight from the article that you offered as way of proof of external influences, and pointed out a section which suggests contrasting interpretations.

    Anyway, what we know with far more confidence, and pretty much the point of the articles I presented was that Jews and early Christians did not interpret the destruction of Sodom as a direct result of homosexuality.

    hmmm, as to the provenance, I think the jury is still out

  69. Jai — on 24th April, 2009 at 9:32 am  

    Comrade,

    Is having more then one wife a problem, if that is the case,then you need to look at Guru Gobind Singh, I have read that he had four wives.

    Your sources are incorrect. Guru Gobind Singh had only one wife, Mata Jito (name changed to Mata Sundari after marriage), and the couple subsequently had 4 sons.

    More details here: http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php?title=Mata_Sundari

    I believe that answers your following statement too…..

    Does that not contradict the the ‘the first commandment’ Kaam/lust/sex

    …..particularly as the recommendation in Sikhism is that one should not marry a person purely due to sexual attraction.

  70. Dalbir — on 24th April, 2009 at 1:23 pm  

    #12

    Smart move Mr. Bones………..

    You know your in real trouble when your getting eyed up and the guy is chuckling and slowly twisting the end of his moustache with his thumb and index finger.

    Based on the Panjabi films I have seen, this is normally the precursor to some violation.

  71. comrade — on 25th April, 2009 at 7:29 pm  

    Jai

    Your sources are incorrect. Guru Gobind Singh had only one wife, Mata Jito (name changed to Mata Sundari after marriage), and the couple subsequently had 4 sons.

    Guru Gobind Singh was married to Jito ji (Ajit Kaur), Sundri ji and Sahib Kaur. The fourth wife, it is said had no sexual relationship with Gobind Singh. I beleive the two sons were from one wife and the other two from one of the other wives, don’t know which one.

    http://sikhism.about.com/od/tengurus/tp/Ten-Gurus-Timeline.htm

    The six Guru Har Gobind, also had three wife
    Damodri ji, Nankee ji and Mahan Devi ji. The sikhs try to hide these facts. But this is well documented.

  72. blah — on 25th April, 2009 at 8:33 pm  

    comrade
    “Is having more then one wife a problem, if that is the case,then you need to look at Guru Gobind Singh, I have read that he had four wives. Does that not contradict the the ‘the first commandment’ Kaam/lust/sex”

    Having more than one wife doesnt necessary mean a person is lustful. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) is often accused of this because he had many wives. Yet from the age of 25 to 50 (when men are most lustful) he only had one wife. His marriages after were to widows (pagan socities didnt accept widows remarriage) and only one wife was a virgin -the others were generally older women who had been widowed by wars or divorced or to form alliances as a leader must.

    Though I dont believe they were Prophets, the Sikh Gurus seem like holy people so I imagine it would be a similiar thing for them. The marrying of widows in a society which shuns them and condemns them to eternal singlehood (such as pagan Arabia or Hindu India) is a powerful act that emancipates females.

    I wonder how many partners (in and outside marriage) the people who criticise the holy figures of religions have had.Often they just impute their own sick twisted ideas onto men who were the holiest and purest individuals. Every pot leaks what it contains as the Arabs say.

    There you go Jai – Im defending the Sikh Gurus!

    Its also funny that people are outraged by polygamy in Islam in which a man has to pay a dowry to his wife and provide her with seperate accomodation and financiali support her and treat her equal ( and huge task) – yet they never say a thing about a society where a man can have 10 girlfriends on a go he drop who he has no responsibilities for when he feels like. And incidentally the Quran says that marrying one is better as you wont be able to deal justly and Islam actually limited polygamy- before in Arabia a person could have as many wives as he wished.

  73. Harvinder Singh — on 26th April, 2009 at 5:58 pm  

    Wow, being raised as a Sikh and championing gay rights I am surprised to see that people are saying Sikhi is against homosexuality. I guess the Akal Thakhat is against gay marriage, something I’ve argued to christians about for years, but it seems like the Akal Thakhat is just as bigoted as christians.

    I don’t believe in bigotry, but the Akal Thakhat is astonishingly bigoted for preaching equality yet being against homosexuals. If the argument is that gays can’t reproduce, then I assume the Akal Thakhat is creating laws against post-menopausal women getting married right? After all they cannot reproduce. Nor can women who have Turner’s Syndrome. Perhaps I should turn to atheism…if anyone wants to discuss this with me my email address is orange_slice@hotmail.com.

  74. Jai — on 27th April, 2009 at 12:34 pm  

    Comrade,

    Guru Gobind Singh was married to Jito ji (Ajit Kaur), Sundri ji and Sahib Kaur. The fourth wife, it is said had no sexual relationship with Gobind Singh. I beleive the two sons were from one wife and the other two from one of the other wives, don’t know which one.

    I take it you haven’t read through the link I supplied in #70, as it includes extensive information regarding your assertions. The women you have listed were the same person.

    Further proof for Guru Gobind Singh’s monogamous marital state is as follows:

    - His advice that a man should ideally love his wife passionately. Note that he did not say “wives” in the plural.
    - His warning that a man who visited the bed of any woman other than his wife “even in his dreams” was taking a highly self-destructive and ill-advised course of action. Again, note that he did not say “wives” or “wife or wives”.
    - The scriptural verse from the Guru Granth Sahib — the final version of which was edited by Guru Gobind Singh himself and whose hymns he recommended people should listen to as his “eternal successor” if anyone wanted to find out about his teachings on any given topic — which says that the ideal marriage involves “one light in two bodies”. It does not say “one light in three, four, or five bodies”. It basically recommends that an ideal marriage is where the man and woman concerned are soulmates and where “true love” in the romantic sense is present between them.

    Historically, in most parts of the world where polygamy was practised, men did not necessarily marry more than one woman purely due to lust (as Blah has correctly stated), although obviously that would indeed be a reason in many cases. Marriage for political reasons involving strategic alliance was also often prevalent, particularly in the higher echelons of society.

    However, in the specific case of Guru Gobind Singh and the majority of his predecessors, they only had one wife each, which is the ideal marital state according to Sikhism’s teachings.

    I don’t wish to belabor the point so we can agree to disagree and leave it at that, although again it would be a good idea for you to read through the Sikhiwiki article whose link I supplied in #70.

    Incidentally, hopefully people a few centuries in the future will realise that Bill Clinton, William Clinton, and William Jefferson Clinton aren’t different people, and neither are Barry Obama, Barack Obama and Barack Hussein Obama, even though their names have been recorded differently depending on the circumstance and at different stages in their lives. Neither, by the way, is Ziggy Stardust and David Bowie, or indeed Philip Mountbatten-Windsor and Philip Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg ;)

    One final off-topic point, in response to one of your earlier comments: “Kaam/excessive lust” is not “the first commandment” (as you put it), although it is indeed one of the main 5 self-destructive internal forces as per Sikhism’s views on the matter. The primary one is “ego” (to the point of arrogance, as opposed to self-assurance/self-respect/self-esteem), closely followed by “anger” (to the point of actual rage, rather than tightly-controlled indignation). Both arrogance and rage (especially the self-righteous or sadistic kind) are often closely intertwined in many people, as we all know.

  75. comrade — on 27th April, 2009 at 7:36 pm  

    Jai, I have read the link below, but have you read the link at 72. Can you imagine the out cry from the Sikh community if that link was not enterily true, there would be hit squads out there looking for me and those who are responsible for running that site. As far as I am concerned I dont really care how people conduct their personal affairs. I personaly have great respect for the early Sikh Movement. Particulary its stand against the cast system and oppression.

    I take it you haven’t read through the link I supplied in #70, as it includes extensive information regarding your assertions. The women you have listed were the same person.

  76. Jai — on 28th April, 2009 at 10:06 am  

    Comrade,

    Can you imagine the out cry from the Sikh community if that link was not enterily true, there would be hit squads out there looking for me and those who are responsible for running that site.

    With all due respect, you’re making some inaccurate assumptions. Some confusion about Guru Gobind Singh’s marital state already exists in some quarters (as the link supplied in #70 explains) and there are numerous Sikh websites which discuss this, but the general consensus is that he had just one wife and she was known by different names at various stages in her life, as was the custom in many parts of North Indian society at the time (it still is, incidentally).

    Perhaps the global Sikh population isn’t as easily inflamed as you think, and it’s also worth considering that, while someone stating that Guru Gobind Singh had more than one wife is generally regarded as a misinformed suggestion, it’s not necessarily interpreted as some kind of “heinous insult” worthy of deadly retribution involving “hit squads” and whatnot. Particularly as at least one of Guru Gobind Singh’s predecessors did have several wives (for various reasons, which didn’t necessarily have to do anything with “excessive lust” etc).

    Also, during the 18th and early 19th centuries followed by the colonial period, the rise of various Sikh royal houses also coincided with the kings concerned having several wives and indeed also numerous concubines in some cases, as was common amongst royalty in the subcontinent in general at the time, although these practices were not in line with Sikh ideals or the examples of most of the Gurus themselves.

    However, if someone suggested that Guru Gobind Singh or any of his predecessors kept concubines, particularly for predominantly sexual purposes, that would indeed elicit a more forceful negative response.

  77. damon — on 2nd May, 2009 at 12:23 pm  

    I printed off the original article from ‘guest’, as well as the first reply from Mangles at post #1:… and showed it to my housmate …. but my housemate, the genial mid 30′s Sikh doctor (from India) absolutely refuses to discuss this with me.
    He really doesn’t like it – and although we are friends, he starts sugesting that I’m harrasing him when I ask him who is Akal Takht, and what is ‘Sikhi’?

    And as for Sarbat.Net – maybe he just wants to keep different parts of his life seperate.
    I’m a white guy who lives in the same house as him, but maybe me asking him to talk about stuff like this is more personal than he wants to be (with me).
    http://sarbat.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=general&action=display&thread=111

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